Rachel Cohen, UK
“Chinese Whispers – Translations (2009)”

There are 2 games behind this work, and a psychology experiment.

The first game is 'Chinese whispers' - English name for 'broken telephone' - played with drawings. It begins with a drawing I make of a familiar object. Another person copies my drawing, and another copies theirs, and so on. Each person sees only the drawing they copy, not the preceding sequence, and the instruction is to copy faithfully what you see. Most of the participants are not art trained so inaccuracies accumulate and the image gradually loses its representational meaning.

The second game can be played with one person at a time or several. I show them the drawings in reverse sequence and they try to guess what it represents.

In the psychology experiment this second game was formalised to compare how quickly viewers made meaning from different sorts of drawings.

Artist Statement

I use games across every aspect of my practice: teaching adults to draw, engaging young and old with gallery exhibitions, introducing art ideas to a general public, creating experiments that combine art and science. Games are a way to harness chance. Games provide a set of rules, a methodology, a playful, inclusive approach.

Artist Bio

Rachel Cohen works in drawing and painting, photography, animation, sound, and text. She creates events and art works that invite public participation and that take the form of games. Her research combines teaching and community engagement with innovative science research in partnership with psychologists. She is based in Brighton UK.